City Councilman Nick Mosby abruptly canceled a fundraiser scheduled Tuesday night in Philadelphia that used images of his wife, Baltimore's State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby, to market the event.
Mosby said Monday he didn't know the event organizers had been promoting the event with his wife's photo or that the fundraiser was being billed as supporting "this political power couple that has been recently catapulted onto a National stage."
Within an hour of being asked about the event, Mosby said, he canceled it. A spokeswoman for Marilyn Mosby said the state's attorney never approved the language used in the promotional material and didn't know where the organizer got her photo.
"We didn't provide any images," Nick Mosby told The Baltimore Sun. "None of the wording was ever approved by the campaign. The event is canceled. … I feel very strongly that this isn't shaping up to be the original event that was communicated."
Sulaiman Rahman, the event organizer and founder of the Urban Philly Professional Network, said he invited the Mosbys to be part of a networking event he set up to coincide with the NAACP's annual convention in Philadelphia. He offered to organize a fundraiser for them, and Rahman said an aide to Nick Mosby accepted.
The event was designed to use the couple's "efforts as civic leaders" to inspire those gathered, he said.
"We asked both of them to come and speak, and we wanted to, in return, do a fundraiser for them. And Nick was the one they decided to support," Rahman said. "Marilyn Mosby has a great name, and Nick has been recognized throughout Maryland."
He added, "From a marketing perspective, we thought Marilyn Mosby would be a much bigger draw."
The Mosbys have been featured prominently at some public events since Marilyn Mosby gained national attention May 1 after charging six officers involved in the arrest of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old whose death in police custody sparked rioting in Baltimore. They couple drew attention when they attended a Prince benefit concert in Baltimore, and the two served as honorary ringmasters at the UniverSoul Circus at Security Square Mall.
Marilyn Mosby delivered a keynote address Sunday at the NAACP convention, which continues through Wednesday.
Some political observers have speculated that Nick Mosby, who was elected to the City Council in 2011, would challenge Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake in April's Democratic primary. He said Monday he has not decided what office he will seek, but "right now I am preparing for my re-election" to City Council.
He had about $2,200 in his campaign account as of January, according to the most recent filing..
Nina Therese Kasniunas, an associate political science professor at Goucher College, said the Mosbys may be wary of looking as if they're capitalizing on Marilyn Mosby's "star power" since her handling of the prosecution in Gray's death.
"The Baltimore City electorate is exhausted from dealing with their government," Kasniunas said. "Any semblance of something that doesn't seem right, they will have an issue with."
Especially, Kasniunas said, voters in Baltimore do not like politicians who appear interested in personal gain or "concentrated power."
"If they see the Mosbys working together in collaboration, that screams 'overly ambitious,' and they don't like that," Kasniunas said.
Rahman said an aide to Nick Mosby asked last week that he stop circulating an announcement featuring Marilyn Mosby's photograph, and he did so immediately. That announcement featured an image of a smiling Marilyn Mosby with her arms crossed and the words "in support of Friends of Nick Mosby."
Another announcement on an event website inviting guests to support the "political power couple" — and featuring photographs of both Mosbys — remained online Monday morning. Rahman said that was a mistake. It was taken down Monday afternoon.
Rahman said he found the photographs online.
The fundraiser was set to precede a "#BlackVotersMatter cocktails and politicos" mixer, Rahman said. He said he has been following the careers of the Mosbys, and got in touch with them through a mutual friend.
He said he wanted to invite both Mosbys to speak at the event, but those plans hadn't been confirmed. He said both offer an inspiring message.
"Nick Mosby has represented a voice for the voiceless in Baltimore," Rahman said. "He has communicated the frustrations with the economic conditions in Baltimore, and Philadelphia has very similar economic concerns and conditions."
Rahman said he regrets "if there is any negative backlash." He said the event was intended as a "win-win" for the Mosbys and those who attended.
Rochelle Ritchie, a spokeswoman for the Baltimore state's attorney's office, said Marilyn Mosby was not involved in any part of planning the event. She did not provide her photo or approve the language used in the promotional material, Ritchie said.
"Mrs. Mosby has no intentions of attending this fundraiser, which was an event developed solely for her husband Councilman Nick Mosby," Ritchie said in a statement. "The fundraiser, while with good motives, is misleading in its efforts and does not in any way involve State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby."